Stand Up Paddling – also abbreviated as SUP or known in German as Stehpaddeln – is a trend sport that has been popular for years and is performed standing on a floating board. This is called a SUP board and resembles a classic surfboard. To move the board, you use a paddle, which, as the name suggests, is used while standing up. Never tried Stand Up Paddling before and want to learn more about it? In this article I’ll explain how to learn Stand Up Paddling and what requirements and equipment you need for it. Additionally I will tell you something about the history and development of Stand Up Paddling.
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How Do I Learn Stand Up Paddling?
The best way to learn Stand Up Paddling is under guidance directly at a lake or other suitable waters. You can also just try it yourself, stand on a board and keep your balance. Once you have mastered this, you can try to move with the paddle. The water should be safe, calm and with as little current as possible. Since you will often fall into the water, especially in the beginning, you should be able to swim. Also make sure that stand up paddling is allowed on the water of your choice and that you have enough space to paddle without disturbing bathers, flora or fauna. Stand up paddling on the ocean is absolutely not recommended, as even a slight swell can throw the board off balance. If you already had advanced experience with your SUP board and are eager to try it on the sea, you should try the sport SUP surfing, which I will introduce you to later in the article.
What Equipment Do I Need?
If you’ve never tried Stand Up Paddling before, it makes sense to rent the equipment at the beginning. Maybe you know someone in your circle of friends who will let you try paddling. Another option is rentals, which are usually located near lakes. If you book a stand up paddling course, the rental company will usually provide you with the equipment as part of the course. However, if you want to paddle regularly, you should think about buying your own equipment. This way you can also make sure that the equipment is suitable for your body size and preferences.
Before buying a SUP board, you should consider whether you have enough space to transport and store the board. For beginners, it is recommended to use a wide or long board, as it is easier to stand on it stably. These boards usually have a length of 3 meters or more. Smaller or narrower boards have the advantage of being more maneuverable when paddling. Inflatable SUP boards are especially practical if you have limited space to store your board. By letting the air out, transporting it on public transportation or storing it in a small apartment is also no problem
If space is an issue, you should also make sure that the SUP paddle is adjustable or that it can be disassembled. To avoid posture problems or pain, it is very important that the paddle is adjusted to your body size. As a rule of thumb, the length of the paddle shaft should match your own body size. Together with the paddle blade, this results in a total length of the paddle that is greater than your own body height. Only with such a paddle you can paddle relaxed for a longer time without having to bend during the paddle to compensate for the wrong length of your paddle.
Clothing is also an important issue in stand up paddling. Wearing a life jacket is absolutely recommended even for swimmers, especially when children are paddling. Otherwise, falling off the board in unknown waters or in waters with strong currents can lead to dangerous situations. Furthermore, make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather. Although paddling in swimwear is not a problem in the summer, you should remember to wear headgear, sunglasses and sunscreen, especially when paddling for long periods of time. You should renew the sunscreen regularly, especially if you fall into the water in between. If you have sensitive skin, additional clothing such as a t-shirt is recommended to keep the sun off your skin, even in high temperatures. In general, however, Stand Up Paddling is possible even in cooler temperatures. However, to avoid a cold shock when falling into the water, you should then wear a wetsuit that protects your body from cooling down.
If you’re still looking for the right SUP equipment, we can recommend buying a complete SUP set, which, in addition to board and paddle, also includes an air pump, carrying bag, repair kit and much more, depending on the provider. We have compiled the best and most popular SUP boards in our guide.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Stand Up Paddling?
The first thing to mention is that Stand Up Paddling is a sport that you can only do outdoors. This means that while paddling you are automatically provided with fresh air and beneficial sunshine. So while you enjoy paddling on the board, your vitamin D level automatically increases. However, especially on longer paddling trips, remember to use sunscreen and renew it regularly.
Standing on the paddle requires a lot of practice, especially in the beginning, and is a balancing act. Depending on the weather, wind and water contribute to the fact that your SUP board sometimes moves more or sometimes less. Your body is busy balancing these fluctuations, which exercises even the smallest muscle areas and trains your balance. The safest place to stand is in the middle of the board, with your feet about hip-width apart. If you have trouble standing at first, I recommend kneeling on the board first and then slowly straightening up. Just standing on the SUP board will give you a comprehensive workout of your leg, core and abdominal muscles
When you start to move with the paddle, you will also work your arm and back muscles. Be sure to change the arm you use with the paddle regularly to ensure a consistent workout and avoid overuse. Because of the resulting movement on the water, your body is constantly engaged in maintaining that firm footing while standing on the SUP board. This ensures that you’re exercising your entire body – without you perhaps realizing it, because you’re actually just busy enjoying your time on the water.
How Did Stand Up Paddling Come About?
So much for today’s trendy sport of Stand Up Paddling. But where did Stand Up Paddling actually come from? Stand Up Paddling has its roots in different cultures and places. In Polynesia, for example, fishermen use the method of stand up paddling to move in their canoes in the sea. And even today in the Asian region, rafts made of bamboo are used, propelled by paddles or poles while standing. In Hawaii, on the other hand, surf instructors used stand-up paddling to keep better track of their surf students and to bridge the distance between shore and waves more quickly.
In the early 2000s, stand-up paddling increasingly became a sport in its own right, with its own competitions being held. Today, stand-up paddling is popular around the world as a recreational sport and is even performed in conjunction with other sports.
For example, in SUP yoga, you perform yoga poses while sitting or standing on the floating board and hold them for a while. In contrast to classical yoga, the balance of the yogis is especially trained due to the moving surface. In the sport of SUP fishing, one uses the SUP boards instead of a boat for fishing. In some cases, special motorized boards are available for this purpose, which facilitate locomotion. In SUP surfing, the board is used similarly to a classic surfboard in the sea and the paddle is used to improve the control of the board. In addition, the use of the paddle provides increased balance compared to traditional surfing, giving you more control over the ride of the waves.
If you now feel like trying stand up paddling for yourself, check out the best SUP boards we’ve compiled for you in our guide here.